Central Kalahari

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:07 pm
May 162011

We left Maun and headed for the Central Kalahari where we would spend the next 4 nights. At Makalamabedi we crossed the veterinary fence where the car had to drive through a solution to wash the wheels and we had to step in some liquid that was apparently soda ash to clean everything in order to contain foot and mouth disease. In typical African style, there was no concern that we had cow dung splattered all over the wheel arches and other shoes that we didn’t wash.

The road along the vet fence to the Central KalahariWe immediately turned right and followed the veterinary fence all the way to the entrance of the Central Kalahari. stopping to collect firewood along the way. At first it was reasonably soft, dry sand which definitely needed 4wd and low tyre pressures, but it became much more solid after a while and less bumpy, so it didn’t take as long as we expected. (Our GPS said something like 6 hours from Maun to the entrance and the lady at the National Parks office said 3, but you can’t always believe their estimates as half the time they haven’t driven there anyway). We were pleasantly surprised that it was only about 3 hours and she was right. At the entrance gate we filled up all our containers with water for showering to see us through the next 4 days (the water at the gate is far cleaner than the water in Maun).

Gemsbok, Central KalahariThe Central Kalahari was not at all what either of us was expecting. Everything you read says it is a sandy desert and arid, so of course we expected a real desert. It was nothing like that. Yes it is a desert as there is very little water, however there was long golden grass everywhere as well as lots of bushes and even trees. We were told by a local guide that the grass does disappear later in the dry season, but even so, there are still bushes and trees.

There are a lot of animals there, most of which congregate around the various pans (Deception Valley being the most popular) however the variety is lacking. There were thousands of gemsbok and springbok, very closely followed by wildebeest and then ostriches. We did see a couple of bat eared foxes, which we have never seen before, a couple of kudu and warthogs, several steenbok and I think we saw a couple of  Gemsbok, Central KalahariSpringboks, Central KalahariWildebeest, Central Kalahari

caracals, but they disappeared too quickly to be sure. We didn’t even manage to see a lion, although we were told by a couple of other groups that there was a lion sitting about 200m from where we were camping, and we only heard them once, which was quite disappointing when everyone else seemed to be seeing them, but that is the luck of the draw on safari. On our last night we think we heard some sort of antelope being killed, presumably by the lion that was near our camp, as there was this squeal of pain which got weaker and then was gone. After 4 days of gemsbok and springbok we had definitely had our fill.

Vultures, Central KalahariCentral KalahariStarling, Central KalahariSteenbok, Central KalahariYellow-billed Hornbill, Central KalahariBat-eared fox, Central Kalahari

Kori 4 Campsite, Central KalahariWe camped the first and last night at the National Central KalahariParks owned Kori 4 and Kori 1 campsites for a total of $9 each night, and the 2nd and 3rd nights at the Bigfoot owned sites Passarge 3 and Sunday Pan 2 for a total of $50 each night. The sites are 100% identical and if I were to do it again I would use only the National Parks owned campsites and take day trips to the other pans, although the NP sites are around Deception Valley which seems to be the most popular place for the animals anyway. The campsites are the real bush experience with pit toilets and bucket showers, but they were great as they were remote and not fenced and you could not hear another person. Ground Squirrel, Central Kalahari

Even though it was not what we expected, I am glad we visited even if we didn’t see the lions and would probably do it again, but as I said base myself around Deception Pan the whole time, taking trips to Passarge Valley and the waterholes.

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